For it is by grace you have been saved...

Monday, September 19, 2011

Be Yourself – Good Advice for Preachers

I’ve been reading a collection of addresses by Charles Spurgeon called An All Around Ministry. At the beginning of each school year, Spurgeon would address the students of his Pastor’s College about some issue in ministry, and when collected together these addresses do indeed provide excellent instructions for all around ministry.

One address is on the issue of Individuality and Its Opposite. Basically it’s an encouragement for ministers to remember that they are not alone in this work (the “opposite” part), and yet at the same time, you are your own unique person.

In light of a couple posts ago when I talked about the “idols” we sometimes have in the church, I found this especially helpful. Our tendency, sometimes, is to try and duplicate those “heroes” of the faith. And quite honestly, there is much to be admired in some of these men, and worthy to be duplicated.

As most of you may know, John MacArthur recently complete a 43 year journey in preaching verse by verse through the entire New Testament. (You can see the “conclusion” of that journey here). He is an amazing servant of God, and this is an amazing accomplishment. Certainly, there are many things about MacArthur and his ministry that are worth imitating.

Others fit that category as well. Personally, I am moved by the preaching of men like Paul Washer and Art Azurdia and Voddie Baucham and John Piper and… well, the list could be rather long. All of those men have been gifted by God to preach His Word with passion, clarity and impact. And again, there is much there worthy to be imitated.

Yet, here’s the thing. I’m not John MacArthur or Paul Washer or Art Azurdia. In fact, even amongst themselves there is a great variety. Voddie Baucham is not John Piper, etc. And that’s as God intended it.

I remember learning this some years ago, way back in the dark ages when I was in college. God sent a man into my life, a dear friend, Rod Albert, who was and is a passionate preacher of the gospel. I heard him preach and immediately I wanted to be like him. Unfortunately, I don’t have the gifts Rod has. I don’t have his experiences, I don’t have his mastery of the Word, I don’t have a lot of things. I actually bemoaned that fact to Rod once. He told me in essence, “God didn’t call you to be Rod Albert. He called you to be you.” Wise words, brother.

Spurgeon hits on this same theme in his address on Individuality and Its Opposite. He says,

There is not only a work ordained for each man, but each man is fitted for his work. Men are not cast in moulds by the thousand; we are each one distinct from his fellow. When each of us was made, the mould was broken; — a very satisfactory circumstance in the case of some men, and I greatly question whether it is not an advantage, in the case of us all. If we are, however, vessels for the Master’s use, we ought to have no choice about what vessel we may be.

There was a cup which stood upon the communion table when our Lord ate that Passover which He had so desired to eat with His disciples before He suffered; and, assuredly, that cup was honored when it was put to His lips, and then passed to the apostles. Who would not be like that cup? But there was a basin also which the Master took, into which He poured water, and washed the disciples’ feet. I protest that I have no choice whether to be the chalice or the basin. Fain would I be whichever the Lord wills so long as He will but use me. But this is plain, — the cup would have made a very insufficient basin, and the basin would have been a very improper cup for the communion feast.

So you, my brother, may be the cup, and I will be the basin; but let the cup be a cup, and the basin a basin, and each one of us just what he is fitted to be. Be yourself, dear brother, for, if you are not yourself, you cannot be anybody else; and so, you see, you must be nobody. . . Do not be a mere copyist, a borrower and spoiler of other men’s notes. Say what God has said to you, and say it in your own way; and when it is so said, plead personally for the Lord’s blessing upon it.

For good or ill, I am who I am. By the grace of God, I am who I am. I’m not Spurgeon, MacArthur or Washer. I’m not even Rod Albert. But God has called me to proclaim His Word. He has gifted me, given me certain experiences, called me to a specific place of service, all of which He did according to His wisdom and for His purposes. And so I’m satisfied not to be nobody, but to be me, because I can’t be anybody else.

Preacher, as well as every believer, be content to be yourself by God’s grace. Don’t try to be someone you’re not and end up being nobody at all. Good words, don’t you think?


Gregg Metcalf said...

Excellent words! I am enjoying reading his Lectures to my Students, it is also filled with good words.

Anonymous said...

Love the photoshop work! lol

This is a great article and very timely as I'm scheduled to preach this Sunday and have been struggling with this very thing for a few weeks. Thanks brother!!